Truck Mounted Carpet Cleaning is not Green
The Truck/Van mounted form of Carpet Steam Cleaning (Hot Water Extraction) or (HWE) is recommended by most carpet manufacturers, but does it have the recommendation of the Environment. The main reasons for concern regarding Truck Mounts are their contribution toward air pollution, water pollution and noise pollution.
The basic design of a Truck Mount Carpet Cleaning System is a presser sprayer, a vacuum/extraction unit, a fresh water tank (Most) and a waste water tank. The concept is to spray a mixture of detergent and water into the carpet fibers under high pressure, to flush out the dirt. The water, detergent and dirt are then vacuumed out (extracted) immediately. This is accomplished by using a “wand”, a device that combines both procedures. The extraction is continuous and the high flow sprayer is controlled by a trigger on the wand and that flow is metered by the Carpet Cleaning technician.
The Carpet Cleaning components of a Truck Mount are powered by the truck/van’s engine or by a separate “slide-in engine”, as with all combustible engines, these units emit poisonous gases as a by-product of use. The emission of fuses is continuous throughout the carpet cleaning process. An average sized room will take 15 -20 minutes to clean, so then a three bedroom home with two living areas, will take approximately one hour total cleaning time. When one considers the millions of rooms of carpeting in office buildings, apartment complexes, schools and residential housing, the potential amount of air pollution from Truck Mounted cleaning is enormous.
(HWE) cleaning uses a combination of heated water and detergent under pressure to flush out dirt. It is a constant cycle of injection of the pressured solution and then the extraction of the solution and the loosened dirt. This process requires several gallons of fresh water. A moderately powered Truck Mount can dispense 3 GPM (Gallon per Minute) using a 1 x 2 stoke pattern (One wet injection stroke and two dry extraction only strokes), one third of the cleaning time would be with trigger on and solutions flowing. Using a 15 – 20 minute average cleaning time per room, this equals approximately seven minutes. Seven minutes of flow at 3 GPM yields 21 gallons of water. This is 20 times the amount of water used by other carpet cleaning methods, Very Low Moisture (VLM) or Oscillating Pad (OP).
This issue is only half of the water pollution problem, as the injection and extraction cycle continues. The waste water is being accumulated in the waste water tank, at the power unit. This waste product is a hazard if not disposed of properly. In short, to dump this waste water into a storm drain is a major violation and will warrant a fine from various governmental entities. This is illegal in most cities and irresponsible, however it occurs often. The additional effort of finding or paying for the appropriate waste water filtration is enough in many cases to encourage this type of behavior.
There will be very few Carpet Cleaning Companies to admit acting in this way and will refer you to their strict company policy. The official policies are not in question, the question is, does every Technician do it the right way every time? The answer based on human nature is, NO! Truck Mounts use more water, waste more water and that waste water is potentially being introduced into lakes, steams and other drink water sources.
The final environmental impact of Truck Mounts is less pronounced, but significant to many, the issue of noise pollution. Whether you can see it or not, it will soon become quite obvious when a neighbor is having their carpet cleaned by a Truck Mount. A modest Unit with a 20HP engine is the equivalent of 5 – 6 lawn mowers all blaring at the same time. This noise is constant throughout the cleaning process, the inconvenience of many for the benefit of one.
Truck Mount Carpet Cleaning is not a “Green” procedure and as it relates to other cleaning methods, it consumes 20 times more natural resources.
1. Air - For every second of the cleaning process poisonous fumes are released into the atmosphere.
2. Water - 20 times the amount of water is used compared to other carpet cleaning methods
3. Water - Waste water is many times disposed of improperly and allowed to potentially enter drinking water sources
4. Noise – A single Truck Mount Unit can produce the same noise of simultaneously running 5 – 6 lawn mowers
Carpet Cleaning can be green through education and effort. To sustain the warranty, the manufacturer recommended (HWE) method and the 18 to 24 months cleaning interval can be fulfilled with portable units. These units are powered by renewable energy and use far less water. When subsequent cleaning is needed prior to the recommended interval, Low Moisture Cleaning Methods can be used. The results being warranty compliance, clean carpet and a clean environment.
Dirty Air + More water + Excess Noise = Cannot equal green.
The author is the Owner/Operator of Services by Fleet Carpet Cleaning in Dallas, Texas